Spend enough time talking about someone in marketing, and you are bound to hear the phrase “buyer persona” – that magical and mythical unicorn of the marketing world.
Marketing teams devote time and energy to constantly revising and studying their “buyer persona.” Some companies call them a customer persona, or marketing persona, or even target persona, but they are all the same thing. They’ll insist that with the right combination of persona details and data every marketing effort will click, delivering astounding results.
The problem for many businesses is that sales and marketing aren’t using the insight and lessons from the buyer persona. They create a persona, but quickly fall back to the tried and true marketing strategies they know and love.
Creating a buyer persona becomes an exercise with no real results. It’s an afterthought not being used to shape the messages and material in marketing activities. It’s not guiding sales activities, or helping reach and influence new customers.
That’s sad, because the right persona can jumpstart your marketing and supercharge sales.
Here’s how it works.
Customer Personas and Your Business
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It is the person (or persons) that you are hoping to reach and convert with your sales and marketing. It may be fictional, but the data and insight at the core of the persona is real.
Sales today is customer centric. It isn’t focused on selling a product or service (I know – it feels counter-intuitive) but solving a problem. It’s about making life better for your customer. That’s an almost impossible task if you don’t know who the customer is, or anything about the problem they are looking to solve.
Data, Not Guesswork
The best marketing today digs into the motivation of the target audience. It understands why the prospect will buy – the problem they need to solve and how they want their life to change. They know where the audience is getting information, the facts and details that are most important. They’ve identified steps the prospect needs to take to move from thinking about a solution to acting on it.
A strong buyer or customer persona provides data driven insight into the target audience. It answers the question of who is buying the product and why they buy it. With this information, marketing can craft the right message, deliver it in the right medium at just the right time.
Without a buyer persona, the marketing team is just guessing, hoping their strategy works. It’s like pitching blind and hoping their message hits. That’s why many companies also call a buyer persona a target persona. Few businesses find success with hopes and prayers – you have to hit your target.
Ready to create a buyer persona?
Tips for Getting the Most from Buyer Personas
Creating a buyer persona isn’t easy. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Data, not guesswork
One mistake many businesses make is relying on guesswork and supposition when it comes to building a buyer persona. They “know” their customers, so they don’t want to bother them with a survey or interview. The result is a buyer persona built on guesswork, and campaigns delivering a potentially fatal supposition. You may not be able to find data for every question you have, but the more answers you have with real world data backing it up, the stronger your persona will be.
- Get to the “Why”
By the time you’re done, your buyer persona will be filled with observations. Observations are great, but you’ll find more value finding the “why” behind the observation. Maybe you know that your persona likes to get information from LinkedIn discussion boards. Good observation, but what does this tell you about the persona? How can you use this to improve your marketing? A good observation is useful, but digging into the “why” and really understanding the customer persona is the key to marketing success.
- Better Information Means a Better Persona
There is a lot of information you’ll want to include in your buyer persona. For example, what is the problem or challenge they are looking to solve, and how can your product or service solve it? What information is the persona going to want as they research the problem, and where are they going to look for answers? How will they make a decision on the solution? What information or people do they trust? How will they evaluate a potential solution? Do they want to work with a sales team, or go it alone? What is the most important factor in their decision? There’s a lot to consider in a persona, and the more accurate your information the better the persona. Sometimes the insight you get from a seemingly unrelated data point is the key to campaign success.
- Fictional Doesn’t Mean Real
At this point, you may be thinking you can just shortcut the buyer persona process by selecting that “perfect” customer, the one you love to work with and always buys more than you think, as your target audience. That’s a mistake. You need to consider your buyer persona as a tool to be used in a marketing strategy. Selecting a single person with all their likes, dislikes and quirks will be limiting, and lose the nuance you’ll find with a fictional persona. You don’t want to focus your campaign on a single person. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean your persona can’t be almost real. Give them a name, find a photo and create the person in your mind. Having that almost real person in mind will help you write personalized content that has an impact.
Getting Started with your First Buyer Persona
You shouldn’t consider your buyer persona a destination, but a step on your journey of understanding your target audience.
Many marketers find it useful to group and organize different buyer personas for campaigns. If you know the challenge a prospect is facing, run a campaign highlighting the solution you can offer. Provide valuable content or information that will appeal to a cross section of buyers. Use the insight from the buyer persona to guide your sales and marketing efforts.
You’ll want to continually evaluate your persona, collect new information and test out new strategies. You’ll probably discover you have more than one buyer persona – different customers with different challenges and goals your product or service is helping to solve.
After each campaign, evaluate your results and review any new data or insight you have on the persona. Use this new insight for your next campaign. Over time, as you collect more data and work with the persona, you’ll develop stronger buyer personas that deliver better results for the business.
If you have questions, or would like to work with a digital marketing team to build buyer personas and launch your first campaign, then contact the experts at GO2 Partners.